Crest used citrus cinnamon peppermint and vanilla mint. New Balance went for fresh-cut grass. The Westin opted for white tea. They’re just some of the brands using scents to leave lasting impressions with consumers and they’re leading the way in leveraging perhaps the least-used of the five senses in event marketing.
“A human’s strongest sense is that of smell and scent is the closest human sense tied to memory,” says Sue Brush senior vp at Westin Hotels and Resorts. “Controlled use of scent can create a desirable and inviting atmosphere and help communicate our brand’s qualities and style.”
According to the Proust Effect coined by writer Marcel Proust in the early 1900s a particular smell or odor can bring back a rush of recollections—often an ideal scenario for marketers who want their products associated with happy memories. Here are a few steps to consider:
Find Your Nose
It might take a little testing to identify the aroma that’s best suited to your brand. ScentAir Technologies which provides scents to brands for retail and events has a catalog of more than 1 500 off-the-shelf scents; the company stocks everything from chocolate and warm apple pie to dinosaur breath (yummy) and gunpowder. Brands—either on their own or working with a supplier like ScentAir—also can hire a fragrance house to create custom scents. For example Westin worked with Mane a global designer of fine fragrances to develop its white tea scent. Brush says the hotelier tested more than 50 scents and worked with 38 scent experts to make it happen.
Testing 1, 2, 3
For its We Fit Kids mall events which wrapped up in late August New Balance piped in the aroma of fresh-cut grass. The brand tested the scent during staff training in the four days before the first event. The dry run gave New Balance a better idea about how much scent to use—and when to pump more. “The scent allowed us to completely round out the overall consumer experience—smell in addition to sound sight and touch,” says Bob Petrosino president of Wilton CT-based Stage Active Brand Marketing which handled.
Money, Money, Money
Scent cartridges normally start around $100 and will last for 30 days. The machines used to pump out the aromas start at about $300. For shorter-term applications ScentAir sells a 72-hour cartridge with its own power for $79.
And It’s Good!
Aroma might awaken childhood memories but brands are finding that it also helps consumers remember a brand experience. After Crest used citrus peppermint cinnamon and vanilla mint smells to bring to life its toothpaste flavors on a recent mobile marketing tour one-third of the consumers who visited the truck mentioned the scent in post-event surveys.
Using scents at events is catching on and brands are getting positive signs from consumers. Westin has even started to license its signature scent for candles and home fragrance diffusers. Smells like a winner.